Another town council meeting in the seaside resort of Fircombe, another difference of opinion. The trouble being, the Great British Summer is best known for rain and there aren't enough indoor entertainments along the promenade. Sidney Fiddler (Sid James) is finding his amusement arcade suffering, so has devised a fine idea to bring in visitors: how about a beauty pageant? The deeply conservative Mrs Prodworthy (June Whitfield), also present, is horrified at the suggestion, considering it the depths of vulgarity, but she has an appointment elsewhere and therefore misses the vote. The motion is carried - but at what cost?
For Sid James' second to last Carry On, he was in excellent form as the womanising local businessman in a place where the trademark seaside postcard humour of the series, you might have thought, would be right at home. Sadly, it was all looking a bit old hat by this time, as evinced by a plot that saw regular writer Talbot Rothwell struggling with the troubles of feminism. Back in 1970, The Miss World event had been memorably disrupted by women's liberation protestors, which would appear to have spawned the idea behind this film.
They couldn't afford Bob Hope to present so producer Peter Rogers got the next best thing, that is a cast of the usual suspects sans Kenneth Williams (too busy) and Charles Hawtrey (too drunk). Otherwise, it was the same old same old, with the battle lines drawn between Mrs Prodworthy and her angry females on one side and Sid and his enterprising cohorts on the other. The anti camp are recognisable for being a bunch of old boilers, while the contestants are notable for being a collection of seventies dolly birds par excellence, with Valerie Leon somewhere in the middle: she begins as a boiler and ends up as a dolly bird when she takes her glasses off.
Backing Sid is the diminutive figure of Miss Easy Rider herself, Hope Springs (Barbara Windsor), who kicks off a skirmish for publicity reasons and helps out with the film's most obvious element of desperation: putting Bernard Bresslaw in a frock. For more attention, Sid has the idea that one of the contestants turn out to be a man and the towering publicist draws the short straw, putting on women's underwear and makeup to little effect. Elsewhere, sexual harrassment is supplied by Peter Butterworth as the Admiral and Sid is failed to be held in check by hotel manageress Joan Sims. Oh, and Kenneth Connor's mayor frequently loses his trousers in a running gag.
As the comedy lumbers on, there are a few funny lines and that old reliable, the double entendre, but there's only so many times you can hear someone misunderstanding a phrase with the word "it" in it before growing bored. The cast do their best to convince us this is fun we're watching, yet the air of the past its prime seaside town where any downpour is not too far away saps the amusement from the film, especially as so little of it takes place at the beach; one photo shoot with local shutterbug Robin Askwith - about to take over the British sex comedy the following year - and that's your lot. The finale commits the sin of featuring a crowd of extras laughing their heads off at something that's not really all that funny, but the real ending is surprisingly good. Sid James escaping the misery on a speeding go-kart? A classic last line? Why couldn't the rest of it display such joie de vivre? Music by Eric Rogers.